NHLBI AAA STOP

A Specialized Center for Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR) P50 Program was funded at Stanford in 2004 to identify novel biomarkers of small Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) disease and test the ability of exercise therapy to modify disease progression (termed AAA Simple Treatment or Prevention [AAA STOP]). Dr. Myers was the principal investigator for the training and exercise assessment component of the grant. The study was based on evidence linking sedentary existence and resulting pro-inflammatory aortic conditions to the pathogenesis of AAA disease. The goal was to test the ability of regular exercise to reduce AAA risk, limit small aneurysm progression, and modify biologic markers of the disease. The study has several components. First, 1,400 small AAA patients completed exercise history and health history questionnaires, and had a blood draw and abdominal ultrasound to correlate risk factors with AAA disease status. Second, 1,000 patients with previously defined exercise capacity underwent aortic imaging to correlate fitness status and exercise capacity with aortic diameter. Finally, 340 patients with small AAAs were randomized to exercise or usual activity, and followed over three years with serial imaging to test the ability of exercise therapy to modify disease progression. The project has closed and analysis shows our training techniques to be highly effective even in this complicated patient group of atherosclerotic vasculopaths.